Why does MobileMe always think I’m coming from Apple Store Japan?

Every time I try to access me.com it tells me that my account has been locked for security reasons. It is really annoying. I have to go and change my password everywhere. During the password change process I get a confirmation screen that offers to send me back to the Apple Store Japan. I’ve never been to the Apple Store Japan.
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iPad 3G Uses a Direct Link to AT&T to Check Current Usage

We’ve all heard the stories (or in my case experienced it first hand) of people going overseas and using the data usage meter in their iPhone to make sure they have not gone over only to find out that the meter in the phone lies. You see the problem is that the meter in the phone records actual bits send and received while the phone company uses its own definition where the smallest unit of measurement is 1 kilobyte. So if you download 10 bytes of data you are charges for 1024 bytes. At least that’s what I can glean by looking at my bill and comparing it to the phone.

To avoid this problem Apple has added a button in the iPad to let you check your usage. This link does not keep track but takes you directly to AT&T’s web site and queries your actual account. This means that the usage is tied to the SIM and not the iPad. The counter even survives a full restore of the iPad. You can see your currant usage and your billing period. Should you go over, you can immediately upgrade to the unlimited plan and have that action back dated to the beginning of the period. There’s even an option to add a International Plan. I’ll have to research that option.

Your AT&T cellular data plan has been successfully activated

I wasted no time in activating the cellular data plan on my iPad 3G. I was surprised that it arrived a day early. It looks identical to the iPad except for the black plastic part at the top and the SIM tray. In the box there is a SIM tray pin and a slightly different help document. The contents are otherwise identical.I filled out my information. I had to come up with an email address and password for the account. It is not related to my existing AT&T service or phone number at all. My corporate AT&T discount is not available. The activation process failed with an SOH00004 error the first couple of times until I decided to try once with my wifi turned off. That was the trick and I was able to activate successfully.

I opted for the 250MB plan. I’m going to try to live within that budget. My understanding is that I can increase or decrease my plan at will. The plan is month to month so if I find myself not using it I should turn it off. This weekend I will be out of WiFi coverage and able to test it in earnest. I will be interested to see how fast that 250 MB gets burned up.

I immediately got an email from AT&T telling me about my new phone number. You cannot call that number and there’s no voicemail. I was surprised by this but it makes sense when I thought about it since everything is phone number based.

From: AT&T Customer Care for Wireless <[email protected]>
Subject: AT&T Data Plan Purchase Confirmation
Date: April 29, 2010 2:33:21 PM CDT

You have purchased the 250 MB of data for 30 days for $14.99 rate plan. Your account login is: ****@xevio.us. Please retain this information for future visits to your account via Settings on your iPad.

Your Cellular Data Number is ***-***-****. Please make a note of this number. You will need it should you have to contact customer care for support in the future for this subscription.

Your credit/debit card has been charged $14.99.

Reminder: Domestic iPad Plans may be purchased with unlimited data usage, or with a data usage allotment measured in MBs, for a 30 day period utilizing a credit or debit card. The 30 day period begins to expire immediately upon purchase, whether or not you are using the service. If you purchase a Domestic iPad Plan with a data usage allotment and you use all of your allotment prior to the expiration of the 30 day period, your access to our Data Services will cease for the remainder of the 30 day period. If you want to continue using our Data Services during the remaining 30 day period, you will need to purchase an additional iPad Plan by visiting www.att.com/iPad from your iPad. Domestic iPad Plans include the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

DOMESTIC IPAD PLANS WILL AUTOMATICALLY RENEW EVERY 30 DAYS, AND YOU AUTHORIZE US TO CHARGE YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD FOR YOUR INITIAL AND ANY SUBSEQUENT IPAD PLAN, UNLESS YOU CANCEL THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL OF YOUR SERVICE. TO CANCEL AUTOMATIC RENEWAL, VISIT WWW.ATT.COM/IPAD FROM YOUR IPAD PRIOR TO YOUR NEXT SCHEDULED PAYMENT TO AVOID BEING CHARGED. IN ORDER TO PROCESS YOUR AUTOMATIC RENEWAL IN A TIMELY FASHION AND ENSURE YOUR CONTINUED USE OF THE SERVICE, AT&T WILL CHARGE YOUR CREDIT CARD OR DEBIT CARD FOR THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL APPROXIMATELY TWO HOURS BEFORE YOUR NEW IPAD PLAN 30 DAY PERIOD AUTOMATIC RENEWAL IS SET TO BEGIN. SHOULD YOU CANCEL AUTOMATIC RENEWAL AFTER WE HAVE CHARGED YOUR CARD BUT BEFORE THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL PERIOD IS SET TO BEGIN (E.G. WE CHARGED YOUR CREDIT CARD FOR THE RENEWAL AT 7 AM ET FOR A 9 AM ET AUTO RENEWAL AND YOU NOTIFIED US TO CANCEL THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL AT 8 AM ET), PLEASE CONTACT AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE TO PROCESS A CREDIT FOR THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL.

Thank You,
AT&T

Using JavaScript for Core Navigation or Function is Dangerous

I know the iPad is new and Web developers have not had a chance to update their site to be compatible with it but… When you are designing a site it should fail gracefully and fall back on more compatible controls. There’s nothing I cannot stand more than to get to a web site to find that the entire site is nothing but a big Flash or ASP.NET application pretending to be a web site. If you are going to have your site function like that, then please have a plain text version of your site linked somewhere on the page. This is also a good solution for ADA compliance.

JavaScript has become the new Flash in some cases. Web developers are using it in places where a standard HTML control would do the job just as well. Recently while trying to search this vendor’s training site I was stopped when I could not select my training location. I did not want to have to scroll through every training location in the results and TX was off the bottom of the popup window. A select control would have worked in this situation just as well but understand that people usually have trouble with multiple selections. That was probably the reason for the change of design. It’s still frustrating.

Apps Missing from iPad Tell a Story

Conspicuously absent on the iPad are some apps that we have come to expect as part of the package. The iPad does not come with Calculator, Weather, or Stocks. Arguably these apps were not Best of Breed apps. Apple is clearly sending a message that they are not interested in providing applications that are not core to their business model. They are getting out of the way and letting the developer community fill the gap. This is a good thing.

Calculator: There is a wonderful calculator for the iPad called “PCalc Lite” PCalc Lite Calculator. It is free and allows through in-app purchasing to upgrade the calculator to add more features.

Weather: Give both Weather BugWeatherBug and The Weather ChannelThe Weather Channel® Max apps a try. You can also find weather embedding in various other apps like USA Today or your local TV News station’s application. There are specialized RADAR apps as well as apps to track everything from Hurricanes to Earthquakes.

Stocks: Check out Bloomberg Bloomberg. It’s free. It lacks storing your stocks in the cloud. If you want that kind of a feature check out Mint.com.

I’d like to see Apple let YouTube and Maps players go but clearly they see those as integral to the experience and they are not likely to rely on Google to maintain them at the expected Apple level of quality.

One thing I found very interesting was how Apple delivered iBooks. It did not come with the iPad. It was available as a free app download. The user is prompted upon entering the App Store for the first time making it extremely easy to get. This is a really good thing. It means that users can delete the app if they don’t want it. Network administrators can prevent it from ever hitting the phone. Apple doesn’t need to worry about parental controls in the app as it would be treated like any other app with a rating. And the most important benefit: Apple can update the iBooks app independently of the operating system release schedule. The iBooks app will never have to wait until all versions of the OS have been updated to send a bug fix to users. This is going to be a problem as Apple increases the number of platforms it is supporting. You can see already they are leaving the first generation iPhones behind in the next rev of the OS. Even the previous generation is only going to get partial support for new features. This kind of decoupling is necessary for the long term success of the platform.

The iPad does include a “Videos” app like the iPod Touch did. This is a cleaner metaphor than the iPod app which is confusing on a device also called an iPod. Should the iPod app be called just “Music”?

Texas Stadium Demolition

Our morning started off at about 4 am when my son and I drove out to Irving for this morning’s spectacle. We arrived about 5:30 and parked on a side street near Maryland and the 183 frontage road. There were people who had been there all night for the last tailgate party. We picked a spot right on the corner and I set up my tripod and camera. There was not much else to do but wait. There were cameras everywhere. People were selling t-shirts. The official party was on the other side of the stadium, downwind I might add.About 15 minutes before 7 they closed highway 183. Up until this point the police had done a good job of keeping the crowds back behind the service road. On some unseen sign the crowds all rushed forward down into the valley that was 183. I saw that the service road provided a nice unobstructed view. I moved to the other side of the street and set up my tripod again.

Right at 7am the fireworks started on the east end of the stadium which was to my right. It was an impressive display that lasted about a minute. I had been shooting a bit of video up to this point and decided to take this opportunity to change memory cards. I have two 16GB cards but I did not know how much I had used of the first card. As I was switching cards the fireworks stopped and there was an eerie silence interrupted only by cheers from the crowd.

Then there were 10 more smaller fireworks coming from the other end of the stadium near the VIP area. This was the countdown. I started recording again. For the next 30 seconds we watched the progression of explosions walk around the stadium. The sound was incredible. We could feel each concussion wave hit us even from a half kilometer away.

Video was shot using my Canon T1i EOS digital camera with a 35-105mm lens. 1280×720 24fps H.264, Linear PCM